New York

Bryan Hunt

Blum Heiman Gallery

Bryan Hunt’s sculptures are derived from the shapes and volumes of bodies of water. The forms are cast in metal and placed on the floor; they have planar tops and jagged bottoms, indicating the changing depths of the water. Some have “holes” which translate into islands. Each work is small, and the tops—the “surface” of the water—tip at different angles. There is also one drawing of a blimp. The relationship between lakes and blimps is that we are meant to be flying over the lakes, experiencing the sculptures from a bird’s-eye point of view. As we tilt and turn in the air, our sense of “level” stays the same while the surface of the earth (and water) seems to go crooked, or tip.

Though Hunt fails to do what he wants to do, he’s involved in something interesting. But he relies too heavily on the viewer’s ability to rethink the scale of the gallery space, and continually to suspend his normal human size. At any one time, if I focused on a single sculpture, I could adjust myself to the works’ scale—the scale of being small, or far away and high above the sculptures. I must suspend my normal perception of size in relation to the lakes, while the gallery space stays static and rigid. Not only did I have to adjust to size, but I had to relocate above the space. The smallest glance up into the room destroyed these adjustments—the windows’ and doorways’ relation to human size was too strong. By placing the perceptual change in scale in the mind of the viewer instead of having it reside in the work, Hunt miscalculates. The gallery space is too aggressive and we are asked to do too much.

Sculpture of the ’60s often demanded a viewer passivity. It was large and aggressive. Reacting to this, recent sculpture has been a little too coy about size and scale—too obviously reactionary and adversary to Minimal monumentalism. It is one thing to be focused and personal and intimate, and another to be just small. Right now it is difficult to separate the authentic from the fashionable. Large sculpture makes us experience space in terms of our position in reference to it. Small sculpture is more problematic. The artist must position the work in reference to us. Otherwise esthetic skill is all in the viewer’s agile mind, shuffling all that space and shifting scale. Hunt’s miniaturization of real volumes might better work in its own constructed space. Right now he is ignoring the realities of installation. Perhaps the authentic artists will discover, as Smithson did, that a completely new space is demanded for the work to be transformed into what it must be.

Jeff Perrone